A 24-year-old Connecticut woman was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs (DUI) after allegedly falling asleep at the wheel and crashing her vehicle on Route 46 in Mount Olive, New Jersey. The officers responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle and found the driver asleep behind the wheel with her airbags deployed, indicating that the vehicle had recently been in an accident. Officers found a prescription bottle in the vehicle with twenty-seven (27) various pills which the driver did not have a prescription for. The driver was arrested and taken to the station to be examined by a Drug Recognition Expert to conduct an evaluation as to whether or not she is under the influence of drugs.
Along with driving under the influence of drugs, she was also charged with reckless driving, possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle, possession of a prescription legend drug, possession of drug paraphernalia, and being under the influence of narcotics.
It is important to remember a couple things in a case like this. First, the defendant is facing traffic offenses such as DWI and reckless driving and she is also facing criminal charges such as possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) and possession of drug paraphernalia. The most serious charges are indictable (felony) level so the case must go to the Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, New Jersey to be handled. The traffic offenses will also be sent up to the county to remain with the criminal charges.
Further, although the defendant is charged with driving under the influence of drugs, this is actually known as a DWI in New Jersey and is charged under the same statute as a DWI for alcohol, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. The State must prove that she was under the influence of drugs at the time she operated her vehicle. The way that they do so is to utilitize a Drug Recognition Expert, known as a “DRE”, who is a police officer trained to detect symptoms of drug use. The officer will prepare a special report after conducting tests on the driver which will be used by the prosecutors to try and prove the DWI charge.